With the commencement of the much-anticipated rail link providing direct service between the Sotetsu&Tokyu Shin-Yokohama Line (Hazawa Yokohama-Kokudai to Hiyoshi Stations) in March this year, connectivity has significantly improved between Keio University's Mita, Shiba-Kyoritsu, Hiyoshi, and Yagami campuses, as well as to Shonan Fujisawa Campus (SFC). The article reveals just how convenient this new line has made travel between Keio's campuses as we reflect on the evolution of Hiyoshi Campus and nearby Hiyoshi Station, as well as SFC and Shonandai Station.
Keio University has sought to expand as an educational institution since the latter part of the Meiji era (1868–1912). This was particularly true during the Taisho era (1912–1926) when a surge in student numbers rendered the Mita campus insufficient. Thus, securing new land became a pressing matter towards the end of that period.
In the aftermath of the Great Kanto Earthquake, attention turned towards residential and suburban development in Tokyo's suburbs, with railway companies advancing the creation of garden cities. In 1928, the Tokyo-Yokohama Electric Railway (now Tokyu Railway) offered to donate approximately 57 acres (70,000 tsubo) of land in Hiyoshidai to Keio University at no cost to the school. At that time, other sites were already under consideration, but this offer prompted a change in policy. Subsequently, through a combination of purchases, leases, and the above donation, Keio secured approximately 106 acres (130,000 tsubo) of land in Hiyoshidai, marking the genesis of the Hiyoshi Campus.
Tokyu's concept behind developing a garden city is said to have been inspired by the railway development methods of Ichizo Kobayashi, the founder of the Hankyu Group in the Kansai region. Kobayashi—a leading industrialist who pioneered modern Japan through his ventures into railways, real estate, department stores, cultural projects, and even professional baseball—studied at Keio University from 1888 to 1892. It is reported that he acted as a mediator in the negotiations between Tokyu and Keio University out of goodwill from start to finish.
Though Hiyoshi Campus opened in 1934, its development was initially marred by the throes of war, which impeded the realization of the academic utopia Keio envisioned. At the height of World War II, the campus found itself hosting the headquarters of the Imperial Japanese Navy Combined Fleet, becoming a target for American air raids. By the war's end, the campus lay in ruins.
Throughout this turbulent history, Hiyoshi Station was there to stand watch. The impressive modern station building that houses Hiyoshi Tokyu Avenue, a large shopping mall, began as a modest above-ground station.
The Toyoko Line began direct service with the Hibiya Subway Line in 1964, the year of the first Tokyo Olympics. Now, over a half-century later, it is directly connected to the Namboku Subway Line, the Toei Mita Line, the Minatomirai Line, the Fukutoshin Subway Line, the Seibu Ikebukuro Line, and the Tobu Tojo Line, among others. In 1991, renovations transformed it into a semi-underground station, and in 2008, the underground station for the Yokohama Municipal Subway Green Line was completed. Amid Hiyoshi Station's evolution, the Faculty of Engineering (now the Faculty of Science and Technology), which had moved repeatedly after the war, returned to Yagami Campus, located just next to Hiyoshi, in 1972, marking a long-awaited homecoming.
Until about twenty years ago, a pedestrian footbridge spanned the Tsunashima Highway in front of the east exit of Hiyoshi Station. Alumni from the late 1970s recall a time when crossing the bridge was quicker than waiting for the signal, a frequent shortcut for many students heading to class.
The year 2022 marked the centennial of the Tokyu Group as well as the 150th anniversary of the first publication of Keio founder Yukichi Fukuzawa's seminal work, An Encouragement of Learning. Celebrating this long-standing affiliation, Keio University honored the occasion with a commemorative collaboration poster proudly displayed within Hiyoshi Station and other locations.
In the 1980s, Keio University sought a vast suburban site for a new campus to establish new faculties befitting the new era. Eager to attract the university, Fujisawa City in Kanagawa Prefecture invited Keio to the negotiation table, culminating in the decision to build the new campus in the city's Endo neighborhood. April 1990 marked the birth of Shonan Fujisawa Campus (SFC), home to the Faculty of Policy Management and the Faculty of Environment and Information Studies.
Initially, Shonandai, the nearest station to SFC, was above ground and was only served by the local Odakyu Line trains. In 1999, the integration of the Sotetsu Izumino Line and the Yokohama Municipal Subway (now the Blue Line) made travel to Hiyoshi and Mita via Yokohama Station much more convenient. In 2008, the route between Hiyoshi and Shonandai Stations was further connected by the Yokohama Municipal Subway Green Line and Blue Line.
With the opening of the Sotetsu&Tokyu Shin-Yokohama Line in March 2023, direct travel between Hiyoshi Station and Shonandai Station is now possible without needing to change trains. There are currently plans to extend the Sotetsu Izumino Line from Shonandai Station to Kurami Station on the JR Sagami Line via SFC, further improving access between SFC and other campuses.
As this ever-expanding rail network serving the Greater Tokyo Area offers more convenient access to Keio University campuses, it promises to further facilitate inter-campus exchange through classes, events, and extracurricular activities.
*This article originally appeared in Stained Glass in the 2023 Summer edition (No. 319) of Juku.